'College tax' varies by campus

Michigan has 15 public universities (though three are technically part of just one university system -- the University of Michigan). Students attending 12 of these 15 schools are paying a "college tax" -- meaning that the annual net cost to them is higher than the average cost found at peer institutions in other states. The three schools that currently escape the college tax are Wayne State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Flint.

  • Grand Valley State University

    42.9662, -85.8908

    Average net price per year*:$15,934
    Median net price of peer group:$10,169
    Rank in peer group:7th of 159
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$23,060
  • Ferris State University

    43.68802, -85.48232

    Average net price per year*:$14,370
    Median net price of peer group:$10,169
    Rank in peer group:9th of 159
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$16,804
  • University of Michigan

    42.27694, -83.73816

    Average net price per year*:$16,888
    Median net price of peer group:$12,738
    Rank in peer group:6th highest of 73
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$16,600
  • Central Michigan University

    43.58959, -84.77393

    Average net price per year*:$14,183
    Median net price of peer group:$10,112
    Rank in peer group:2nd of 30
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$16,284
  • Michigan Tech

    47.11918, -88.5486

    Average net price per year*:$15,430
    Median net price of peer group:$12,439
    Rank in peer group:13th of 72
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$11,964
  • Western Michigan University

    42.28361, -85.61512

    Average net price per year*:$15,285
    Median net price of peer group:$12,439
    Rank in peer group:12th of 72
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$11,384
  • Eastern Michigan University

    42.25165, -83.62735

    Average net price per year*:$12,474
    Median net price of peer group:$10,169
    Rank in peer group:33rd of 159
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$9,220
  • Michigan State University

    42.7057, -84.4792

    Average net price per year*:$14,708
    Median net price of peer group:$12,738
    Rank in peer group:15th of 73
    “College tax” over four years of school:+7,880
  • Lake Superior State University

    46.49299, -84.36444

    Average net price per year*:$12,054
    Median net price of peer group:$10,842
    Rank in peer group:17th of 62
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$4,848
  • Northern Michigan University

    46.55834, -87.40347

    Average net price per year*:$10,721
    Median net price of peer group:$9,731
    Rank in peer group:25th of 62
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$3,960
  • Oakland University

    42.66802, -83.2023

    Average net price per year*:$10,972
    Median net price of peer group:$10,112
    Rank in peer group:11th of 30
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$3,440
  • Saginaw Valley State University

    43.51266, -83.96434

    Average net price per year*:$10,870
    Median net price of peer group:$10,169
    Rank in peer group:67th of 159
    “College tax” over four years of school:+$2,804
  • University of Michigan-Flint

    43.01974, -83.68944

    Average net price per year*:$10,058
    Median net price of peer group:$10,169
    Rank in peer group:86th of 159
    “College tax” over four years of school:-$444
  • University of Michigan-Dearborn

    42.31862, -83.23321

    Average net price per year*:$8,689
    Median net price of peer group:$10,169
    Rank in peer group:115th of 159
    “College tax” over four years of school:-$5,920
  • Wayne State University

    42.3579, -83.0694

    Average net price per year*:$10,147
    Median net price of peer group:$12,738
    Rank in peer group:60th of 73
    “College tax” over four years of school:- $10,364

*Average net price for all students receiving any grant or scholarship aid

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Jeffrey Poling
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:40am
My wife and I love the beauty of Michigan's college campuses. In our particular case, we have a special affection for U of M in Ann Arbor, my Alma Mater. Every time we visit the campus, there are cranes in the air. The building and expansion of the Medical Campus, the Atheletic Campus, North Campus and Central Campus with the new and incredible North Quad and Business School is breath taking. But while I am in awe of the beauty and proud of my University, I cringe at the cost which must be astronomical just in maintainenance alone. How much does it cost to clean, repair, supply, staff, heat and cool these buildings? How much of this cost burden can be absorbed through tuition by students and their families, state taxes, and alumni contributions? Our economies are fragile. I worked at Chrysler in the mid 70's when half the restrooms were padlocked to save money just before they shut the entire corporation down. I don't want to see that happen to Michigan.
T. W. Donnelly
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:58am
What would be so wrong for a student to take basic core classes at a community college to save cash? English composition is structurally the same class,whether it is taught at a university or community college.But those who attend a university are also paying for the "atmospherics", the ivy on the big buildings, the football rallies, the "name recognition" that bestows a certain grandeur. Boil it down, going to college is sitting in a seat in a class with a professor sharing the good news of the subject. Ultimately, what one does with that learning is up to the student consumer. So there must be some allure for the student to pine for a berth on the university train: the prestige of the institution. That ultimately is for what the student pays in choosing a university setting. We all need to examine what student are really underwritng with their tuition dollars.
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:24pm
Don't worry Jeffrey, UM has a $6.7 billion dollar endowment sitting in the bank, the largest college endowment in the state and one of the largest nationwide. Their football revenue is the 4th largest in the nation at $63 million/year with a profit of almost $49 million. This is before they count the tuition dollars that roll in ever semester. UM is one of the most financially secure universities in the nation.
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:20pm
this is interesting information, but can you elaborate on the composition of the peer groups and the rankings within them?
Ron French
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:38pm
Because of time constraints, we weren't able to post public versions of the complete peer groups. If you have a specific group/school you're interested in, I'll be happy to respond here or by email, at rfrench@bridgemi.com
Elijah Brumback
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:52pm
Ron, where does this information come from? Could you tell me how its calculated and why it makes sense? I’m trying to understand what this really means? Is this just a cost comparison? Also if michigan students went out-of-state they would be paying out-of-state tuition, which is assuredly more expensive.
Ron French
Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:09pm
Hello Elijah, our data comes from IPEDS, an online source of higher education data. One piece of information IPEDS tracks is average net cost for students receiving any amount of grants or scholarships. This is the best measure of the real cost of universities, rather than the sticker tuition price. On your second question, of course if Michigan students attended a North Carolina public school, they would pay out-of-state tuition rates, which may well be more than the in-state rates in Michigan. The point is not that it's cheaper for Michigan students to leave the state to attend college; the point is that Michigan families have to pay MORE for the privilege of attending a state school that residents of other states pay to attend their state schools. Is that good policy? what are the ramifications for Michigan families, students, and the state economy? Here's an example: Say Michigan taxes beer at a higher rate than North Carolina, so that Michigan residents pay $3 more per six-pack than residents in N.C.; No one's going to drive to NC to buy beer, but once Michigan residents know they're paying more, do they feel they're being cheated and demand a change? This story raises the questions about policies that make attending college in Michigan more expensive than in other states
John Q. Public
Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:37am
Michigan could both get more graduates to stay in Michigan, and fund successful higher education, by offering a tax credit to individuals who graduate from a Michigan college or univeristy and file a resident state tax return. How about $250 per year for an associate's degree or apprentice-level tradesman, $500 for a bachelor's degree or journeyman's card, and $1,000 for a post-graduate degree or master craftsman? No certification, no tax credit. Good until age 65. You'll get more by subsidizing individuals rather than institutions, whose leaders keep the benefits for distribution among themselves.